Much Like Bigfoot, Plug and Play is Fighting Reality

Published on July 14, 2021

Andy Honeycutt

President and Chief Consulting Officer at MeterSYS

Acronyms annoy most people, especially when they are thrown casually around by others who know them well, but their audience does not.  SMDH.  Well, in the MeterSYS world, there are two acronyms that we use every day that are alike yet different, and I am sure we annoy folks when using them because they are so intrenched in our daily work.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure is a mouthful, so we just say AMI.  Internet of Things is both a mouthful and not quite descriptive enough to use in daily jargon, yet IoT has established itself as the moniker of smart devices transmitting information over a wireless network, just like AMI.  The difference is that historically AMI has been limited to its purpose of transmitting consumption reads for water, gas, and electric systems through a dedicated network.  Now, with the advancement of IoT networks like LoRaWAN,  we can deploy AMI but also add a multitude of operational and environmental sensors to the same network to help our clients do the things they do even better.

The key element missing from IoT until recently was the ability to clearly understand the end-to-end approach to achieving a true “smart” system.  There were sensor manufacturers, software developers, and network builders yet the disparity between the various players made implementation a bit of a mystery.  Our Metering as a Service® program provides all the aspects of Design, Build, Finance, Operate, and Maintain (DBFOM) necessary for end-to-end solutions to become a reality.  By applying the same best practices for sustainable operation of AMI, we can expand the opportunities for our clients to achieve Beyond the Read™ functionality out of their network.  Understanding each step of the data transfer process AND making the data relevant to the customer is nirvana.

But wait, it is not that simple.  There is a common misconception that AMI and IoT are “plug and play”.  This idea has about as much grip on reality as the notorious BIGfoot.  We have heard about it, but no-one has real proof it exists.  This is why MeterSYS built and continues to invest in our Device Testing Center.  We painstakingly run every device type through our customized end-to-end testing program so that we fully understand the interplay of disparate devices on a singular network.  It is vital to our clients that we extract only the information they need to improve operations, lower costs, and enhance customer/citizen service.

The industry is in a continual state of progression for both AMI and IoT and that is a good thing.  The reality is that many organizations are concerned about timing the market to extract the most benefit at the lowest costs.  Wall Street will tell you that timing their market is a sure fire way to be disappointed.  The best advises MeterSYS, and Wall Street can give is to trust your advisor to provide sound guidance that give you solid returns over the long-term.  In other words, AMI and IoT give great ROI when done with a lot of TLC.  TY

Andy Honeycutt, President and Chief Consulting Officer